Celebration is far from Jayson Castro’s concerns late Thursday night.
Turning 30 years old on June 30, the Tropang TNT spitfire guard’s focus is solely on Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign for the upcoming 2016 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament here.
But the birthday boy couldn’t hide his excitement as he once again stepped inside Mall of Asia Arena, the same site the OQT will be staged, as the team held its first practice session since returning from its 18-day European trip.
“Nag-host na rin tayo before ng ganitong event, so ngayon mas matindi na kasi ang mga makakalaban natin,
mga NBA players na,” he said, wishing that the troves of Filipino fans will be present as Gilas Pilipinas shoot for the stars against some of the world’s bests. “Sana suportahan uli tayo ng mga kababayan natin.”
Castro believes that despite the monumental odds, there is a good chance for the Philippines to pull off an upset and book a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“Kami naman ang nakakalam dahil kami yung nag-training. Alam namin sa sarili namin na may chance tayo,” he said. “Kung ano naman ang sinasabi ng ibang tao, di naman natin pinakikinggan yun. As long as in practice, yung mga game plans nagagawa namin, malaki ang chance natin talaga.”
Gilas Pilipinas plays its final tuneup on Friday against Turkey, a game which Castro thinks will truly show the progress the team has made ahead of its battle against favored teams like France and New Zealand in the OQT’s group stages.
“Siguro after this tune up game, doon namin masasabi kung ready na ready na kami kasi marami pa kaming ie-execute at ia-adjust sa game namin. After noon siguro, more on polishing na lang kami,” he said.